One of the most distinctive voices in music will be getting the crowds jumping at next month’s Sunniside Live.
Along with her Happy Mondays band members, Rowetta will be headlining the second night of the festival when it takes over Sunniside Gardens on July 7 and 8.
The soulful singer says she’s looking forward to returning to an old stomping ground.
“I’ve actually got a lot of friends in Sunderland,” she said. “I used to perform there a lot before the Mondays got back together. My friend owned the Pullman and the Glass Spider so I used to play there a lot, and also at the gay night. I love that it’s a city with a seaside too, it’s a great place and I love playing to crowds there. Anywhere from Manchester and above is great to play. Glasgow crowds are hard to beat, but the North East fans are always brilliant.
“It’s a proper working class place and people like that we have no airs and graces. We often go out after the gigs and party and people like that.”
She added: “Our music is all about that party vibe. It’s not music that you have to sit there and concentrate for, it’s about the vibe you feel.”
The Happy Mondays are set to bring the party vibe to the city centre’s only music festival, which returns for a third year with a line-up that includes The Farm, Incognito and Heather Small from M People. The Madchester legends are riding the crest of a nostalgic wave after reforming in recent years and Rowetta says they’re better than ever before.
“I thought it would just be one reunion tour, so it’s a beautiful surprise that it’s become what it has,” she said. “We’re actually a better band now, because we remember it. We even remember the journey home after a gig, which would never happen before. And everyone makes the tour bus these days.
“We realise that we can’t stay up all night and then do a gig like we used to. We appreciate that people have paid to come and see us.
“It’s five years on since we reformed and it’s going great, we’re planning to do an album, but that will probably be in 2019. I’m really proud of the lads and what we’ve done.”
Following the Manchester terror attack, Rowetta says it’s more important than ever to make music a celebration of life. She said: “After the attack in Manchester I had to get on a train to London to play Royal Albert Hall and I was scared, but you can’t let them win. You can’t let them divide us and you can’t let them stop us playing.”
She says the band would have loved to be part of the One Manchester memorial gig, but the band, who helped define the Madchester music scene of the late ’80s and early ’90s with hits including Step On, already had a prior engagement.
“People were asking why there wasn’t more bands from Manchester on the bill, but we already had a gig in Bristol that night or else we would have played,” she said. “We couldn’t do it, but our hearts were there.”
•We have a pair of Friday tickets and a pair of Saturday tickets to Sunniside Live to give away. To be in with a chance of winning, answer this question: with which legendary Madchester band does Rowetta sing? Email your answer and contact details to Katy.Wheeler@jpress.co.uk by June 22.